Moscow's lockdown ends as coronavirus cases in Russia pass 485,000

Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Reuters

Posted at Jun 09 2020 05:28 PM

Moscow's lockdown ends as coronavirus cases in Russia pass 485,000 1
Russian law enforcement officers, wearing masks against the coronavirus outbreak while on patrol at the annual Red Square Book Fair in central Moscow, Russia, June 6, 2020. Shamil Zhumatov, File Photo, Reuters

MOSCOW - Residents of Moscow began to resume their normal routines on Tuesday as a lockdown designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus was lifted after more than two months despite the Russian capital still reporting over a thousand daily cases.

Moscow's nearly 13 million residents are now free to go outside when they want, use public transport, and travel across the city in their own vehicles without any restrictions or digital passes.

"We're free now, you can walk around as long as you wear a mask," said Pavel, a pensioner, who was doing some morning exercise without a mask.

"We'll need to be careful, we will be careful."

Sergei Sobyanin, Moscow's mayor, announced the easing on Monday, saying the pandemic was receding in the city and that he would start rolling back restrictions on Tuesday with others due to be removed later this month.

Anti-Kremlin critics have questioned the wisdom of Sobyanin's decision, accusing him of rushing the lockdown lifting in order to pave the way for a Red Square military parade later this month and a July 1 nationwide vote that could extend President Vladimir Putin's rule until 2036.

Sobyanin has said his decision was motivated purely by the fact that coronavirus numbers in the capital had steadily fallen in recent weeks, Muscovites' responsible behaviour, and by the fact that the strain on the city's health system has eased.

Most commuters were wearing masks on Moscow's sprawling metro system on Tuesday, which was still less busy than it was prior to the outbreak.

Authorities said on Tuesday they had recorded 8,595 new nationwide cases in the last 24 hours, pushing Russia's tally to 485,253, the third highest in the world. The country has recorded 6,142 deaths from the virus.

Moscow itself reported 1,572 new virus cases on Tuesday.